Thursday, July 03, 2008

What's Next...

The Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik recently addressed what we have been wondering and thought about posting, which is to suggest that the NEO economy has turned a corner and now has an infrastructure that supports innovation and accepts the risks of new ventures. (link)
We agree. The feeling is now taking hold in NEO's business community. Our concern at The Full Cleveland has now transferred from will the infrastructure take hold to will those non-profit organizations that gave it life -- such as JumpStart, Nortech, Greater Cleveland Partnership and others -- be able to step aside and allow at-risk organizations to step in and fill their role. If not, and these non-profits get lost in propping up their jobs at the expense of advancement, we're at greater risk than before any contribution from The Fund for Our Economic Future.
Fingers at The Full Cleveland are crossed.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I’m awake in the middle of the night thinking about the world and how my world relates to it. I’m surfing news sites and reading about the mess in Iraq and how the U.S. is creating more problems in the Middle East than we’re solving. I read that U.S. missteps are only inviting more terrorism, as opposed to discouraging its spread.

Next, I read an evaluation by Homeland Security of U.S. cities: (link)

I was disappointed but not surprised to learn my homeland, Cleveland and its suburbs, is ranked near the bottom or lowest for preparedness for terrorism. Apparently our region is one where "formalized governance (leadership and planning) across regions has lagged."

That statement echoed many of our observations made on this blog. Think about it, how does another example of poor fundamental structure do anything to help attract new businesses to Northeast Ohio? It's symptomatic of greater problems, bigger issues.

Emergency preparedness is definitely an issue where the region’s political leaders can have impact, can exact improvements. However, they seem to spend too much investment in endeavors where they get great visibility but have little impact or accountability.

I prefer they invest their time and the other citizen resources on getting the infrastructure fundamentals right so the rest of our regional challenges have a better chance for resolution. ~Jim

Monday, May 15, 2006

More to Believe...

We believe innovation is a critical driver in today’s knowledge economy. We’ve yet to hear anyone argue against the role it must play when reinventing the region’s economy. The Plain Dealer’s Quiet Crisis Series reminded us how our region has slowly suffered without it.

The Quiet Crisis Series also encouraged us to recognize that innovation is infrequently, if ever a product of group think. This is why immigration is critical to a creative economy. It brings ideas from across the globe and from a variety of cultures to help overcome challenges being addressed in a region. That’s the power of diversity.

This means that our region and our state need diversity to be present wherever influence is exerted on the region’s economy. A friend of ours assures us that a group has arrived to support this need as it relates to the State of Ohio’s policy making.

This group is We Believe Ohio. It has the support of NCCJ. These organizations are working to ensure that diverse ideas reign in our state government and that no one religious denomination blurs the line between church and state. They’re encouraging Ohio citizens to join Northeast Ohio spiritual leaders and lay people in the promotion of the values of inclusion, compassion and social justice, as opposed to the religious politics of division and exclusion.

The We Believe Ohio-Cleveland Chapter will be launched at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17 with a public press conference at the Cleveland Play House at 8501 Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland. Reverend Otis Moss and Rabbi Richard Block are co-chairing the event. We’re anxious to hear what they have to offer.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A reason to "Believe..."

Kent State University has announced its graduate architecture program is moving to downtown Cleveland. It’s our hope the annual influx of creative minds will spur a higher level of consciousness for design and how it can shape indvidual and collective experiences.

We believe this announcement holds the promise of giving our central city the distinct look that could be classified some day as “Cleveland Style,” attracting even more members to our region's creative class.

Furthermore, this would mark a major evolutionary step towards defining the Cleveland brand, allowing all of us to abandon empty slogans or, worse yet, relying on national media to define it.

Best of all, better city design is a proven path to defining a region's comparative advantage.

These possiblities are something we can believe.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Imagine Regionalism

We’re discovering a variety of definitions on regionalism exist. We expect we’ll hear even more this week as WKSU explores the subject.

The alarm for NEO’s need to embrace regionalism was sounded again last week, prompting us to further consider how we define the concept. This AP news report, which tells how inner-ring suburbs often suffer from a lack of government support (i.e., tax dollars) at the expense of exurbs and core cities, helped crystallize our thinking.

Considering that the NEO region is expanding while its population remains relatively stable, this news report foretells trouble for more than just inner-ring cities; it's a warning shot for any suburb in Cuyahoga County as residential development proceeds into the greenfields of Geauga, Medina and Lorain counties. This might explain why Bay Village’s mayor was once lobbying for a seat on The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium.

Can you imagine if Cuyahoga County's suburbs had embraced regionalism in 1950? Their leaders would now be prepared to tackle the exacerbated issues they’re facing today. Had they embraced the challenges and troubles of neighboring cities like East Cleveland or, better yet, Akron and Youngstown, they would have answers to today’s problems.

Again, imagine how different our worries would be today if we had been operating as a region since the 1950s? We suspect our worries would involve choosing between the best opportunities and less on how to avoid disaster.

If our definition is true, the sooner NEO acts as a region the better.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dream a Little Dream

It’s not a habit of ours to rely on references involving Corey Feldman’s career to illustrate our thinking. However, the title of the 1989 teen comedy captures what we view is being asked by NorTech.

Growing up in the Cleveland area we’ve always been asked to understand the region through the rearview mirror. Our parents and grandparents would tell us what Euclid Avenue once was and what it once represented. Infrequently, if ever, did anyone ask us to consider what it could be?

We knew at young ages that the strip between Playhouse Square and Public Square wasn’t a retail center. The closing of Halle’s told us it wasn’t, only to be confirmed by the shuttering of May Co. and the postdated death of the Higbee’s building.

Despite these clear signs, we’ve also witnessed ill-fated investments of capital and goodwill into reviving downtown Cleveland as a retail center. Why? We suspect too few of us have been willing to look out the windshield; to look for what opportunities are ahead and sequester the energy to steer clear of potholes and pitfalls to pursue these.

Knowing what we know and what we don’t, we’re excited that NorTech is asking us to look out the windshield, to see what’s coming and to align our resources accordingly. Individually. Collectively. Regionally.

Mind you, NorTech isn’t telling us what’s coming next. It is sounding some signals and posting some signs, however. Yet the path any of us travel is ultimately a product of our making.

Like a good travel agent, NorTech does offer advice as to how to arrive at our desired destination:
1) Get personally involved
2) Start thinking
3) Contribute time, effort and/or resources to the cause
4) Help any organization that you’re part of to understand its role in shaping the future
5) Communicate to politicians at every level why and how they must support science/engineering education in our schools, colleges, universities and businesses

As frightening as this is to imagine, NorTech is helping us to adopt a newfound perspective comparable to that of Corey Feldman’s character in Dream a Little Dream. His character gains the wisdom of an elderly neighbor’s experiences after Corey collides with his dream girl. This event gives him the insight needed to realize what he could only previously dream about and the old man never thought to achieve.

NorTech is doing much the same by asking old white guys in suits to join forces with the rest of us to realize a mutual dream, making the Cleveland/Akron/Youngstown region one of the top ten places in the world for livability by 2020. Now that’s a distinction we can live with once we’re old white men looking in the rearview mirror at the full Cleveland.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Boundary-Breaking Collaboration

NorTech apparently has a remedy that might help Clevelanders break from spending too much time talking to oursleves. The regional cheerleader for technology-driven economic development is helping area business clusters deliver potential disruptive technologies by recruiting strategic partners with complementary skill sets.

Nano-Network, a division of NorTech, has launched an affiliate chapter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This collaboration between disparate regions will focus energies and investments on the growing science of nanotechnology and its consumer and manufacturing applications.

Chris Mather, Nano-Network's executive director, told The Plain Dealer that the New Mexico chapter will be managed by Technology Ventures Corp., a charitable foundation that "links the investor community and publicly funded technologies" with commercial prospects.

"New Mexico is extremely different from and quite complementary with Northeast Ohio," Mather informed the PD in response to a news release. "Federal funding and research labs are considered to be among New Mexico's strengths, yet the state is weak in manufacturing and commercial companies, nearly opposite from Northeast Ohio."

Might this be the start of NEO's comparative advantage?